The U.S. government has declared the opioid crisis a state of emergency. In 2017, more Americans died from opioid overdoses than were killed during the entire Vietnam War. Opioid overdoses and deaths have gotten so bad that they are cited as one of the main reasons why U.S. life expectancy rates have decreased in recent years.
Although opioid addiction levels have reached epidemic proportions in the last few years, opioid addiction is not a new phenomenon. In the U.S., addiction to morphine, an opiate derivative, after the Civil War caused a range of social problems in the country. Scientists, doctors, and legislatures have tried numerous ways to lessen addiction rates with varying degrees of success.
During the 1960s, a medication called Buprenorphine/Naltrexone was invented to help treat opioid addiction. Methadone is a prescription drug that interacts with the brain’s opioid receptors, which are responsible for someone experiencing painful withdrawal symptoms and cravings for opioids when they quit. Methadone is also used to treat moderate pain. Unfortunately, Buprenorphine/Naltrexone is still an opioid drug and comes with a risk of addiction and abuse.